BEN WELCH equalled the Heydon Grange course record with an eight-under-par 64 in the opening round of The Sky Sports International.
On a day of low scoring on Thursday, Welch gave himself the early cushion with an outstanding round. The 23-year-old from Weymouth landed an eagle at the first hole, and birdies at nine, ten, 11, 13 and 14 saw him move clear.
“It’s wonderful,” said Welch. “I didn’t realise I had equalled the course record until after I had finished.
“That’s always nice but it’s not the goal you set out for. I didn’t play too well in my practice round but worked through it on the driving range and it all came good today.
“I had a tap-in eagle at the first and then hit the pin on the third – suddenly I found myself three under.
“Five birdies in six holes in the middle was where I really made my score, and it was great to finish with a birdie too.
“I just have to keep it together for the rest of the week and try to carry it on now!”
Michael Welch sits a shot behind his namesake at -7 following another impressive round.
“It was very good but I felt I didn’t play too well,” he said. “I was erratic off the tee but I put a new putter in the bag this week and it got me out of trouble.
“I’m starting to putt better but there’s plenty to improve on overall.
“There are a lot of good scores today – people are taking advantage of the great condition of the course, there is no wind too which makes things easier.”
Barry Hume was challenging the leaders at -6 after 14 holes, while Phil Worthington, who had been level with Ben Welch at -7 after 14 holes, slipped back to end his round on -5 alongside Guy Woodman, Fraser Kelley and Darren Prosser.
Steven Cowle, Yasin Ali, John Wade and David Clark were all a shot further back after carding 68, with 14 other players under par following the morning rounds.
A full round-up will be issued at the close of play, and latest scores can be accessed via the link to the right.